December 12, 2008

Screen Star Van Johnson Passes

Hollywood Fixture, Many TV Roles

Screen Star Van Johnson Passes

Hollywood Fixture, Many TV Roles

Actor Van Johnson, a boyish Hollywood star whose career took off in the 1940s and remained strong for decades afterward, died of natural causes on December 12, 2008, at the Tappan Zee Manor, an assisted living facility in Nyack, New York. He was 92.

Johnson was born August 25, 1916, to a plumber and housewife in Newport, Rhode Island. He was 16 years old when he left Rhode Island for New York City to pursue an acting career.

Johnson began his career on Broadway thanks to a recommendation of a fellow redhead, Lucille Ball.

He later moved to California, and starred in such films as 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, A Guy Named Joe and The Caine Mutiny, among many others.

In the 1960s, he went back on stage in productions of Damn Yankees and The Music Man in London, and for the next 30 years worked steadily in regional and dinner theaters. He also appeared in several television series, including The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and McMillan & Wife.

His final appearance in a Hollywood film was a cameo in Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo in 1985.

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